tv Washington This Week CSPAN September 9, 2012 6:00am-7:00am EDT
countries. let's not neglect economic opportunities. we'll talk about democracy and political freedom and the rule of law and power sharing and all these things are important but the arabs spring began by an act of self immolation against the lack of opportunity. i think that winning the ideas war is going to entail speaking to be suppressed economic aspirations of the people in the muslim world and making the case for an open market to meet their material aspirations better than the old model of the political distribution of economic rewards so it becomes stakeholders in the global economy.
they will become less susceptible to radicalization. the report lays emphasis on an islamist. as a reaction to the west and maturity. -- and modernity. the attacks on the united states are often tactical and the real enemy seems to be, the near enemy, seems to be the regimes in the eyes of al qaeda and other extremist groups. these enemies of god, all -- as al-qaeda defines them, are fair game. the victims of these are overwhelmed in malls -- muslims. -- overwhelmingly muslims.
nobody has documented this. we should not wait for the next conquest to tell us about this going on in the arab world. one of the most discouraging things i have read in the last decade was this quote from virginia muslims who recruited by the taliban were arrested in pakistan before they could do that. one of them said we're not terrorists, we are jihad tests. adests. we need to organize an international effort to buttress norms against the
killing of civilians on any pretext. i would go for a fifth camp geneva convention. i think we need to codify the new rules of war and define terrorism as crimes against humanity. by way of taking some of the revolutionary glamour out of the jihad and putting faces on the victim's and creating a legal basis of the people who recruit suicide bombers and plan the attacks. this does not require any sophisticated theological knowledge on the part of the united states. we would simply be showing solidarity for the victims. thanks. [applause]
>> i would like to thank our two commentators for their interest in remarks. i want to pick up one point that will have mentioned -- the issue of anti-americanism is important but one of the key points to keep in mind is that there is this kind of understanding that the west is inevitably hospital -- hostile so you get the claim that someone is acting in revenge against the u.s., for instance, that has to be understood in terms of an understanding of the u.s. where there is no possibility for not taking revenge because the u.s. has to be hostile. the clearest example of this was november of 1979 when a group of a fanatics took over
the grand mosque in mecca. the u.s. embassy is burned and there is fires. khomeini made some comments that were broadcast that the u.s. was somehow responsible for this. what possibly would lead people to think that could be the explanation of an attack whabi fanatics text if you assume the u.s. is hostile to islam in general, maybe you can conclude that it was the u.s.. the fundamental fact, the assumption of inherent hostility -- in the case of the region's
coming out of the hour but spring is we have to focus to the extent we can on the pragmatic issue of the future. whatever past animosity there is toward the u.s., we want them to think not in terms of how do i get back at the u. s? rather what use can i make of the u.s. to do the things i can't do now. to make = egypt -- to the things i can do now like to make egypt a better place. >> i don't disagree that it would be helpful to counter anti-americanism. there are a lot of benefits of that and some of them may be that it would be -- it would take some of the steam out of
the terrorist -- the appeal of the terrorist ideology. what i found when i was in the government, repeatedly trying to get other people in the government interested in a serious effort against islamic extremism, one of the things that was generally brought forward by people who were disinclined to do anything in this area was that they would argue the problem is basically anti-americanism which is to say, our own policies. there were people who made the argument and they took this trip from what al qaeda leaders have said is that if the united states get out of the middle east and did not base its forces there, al qaeda would not object
to the united states. if the united states stops supporting israel that i love the problem would go away. the entire american as an argument is used as a way of saying let's not talk about them, let's talk about us and we are the problem and what can we -- what can we do differently? they are basically writing on the terrorism issue to promote an agenda they support. the other thing that came up as the root causes of terrorism argument. the two main root causes of terrorism that were put forward in my experience or the arab-
israeli conflict. after the arab spring, it is harder to make. people made the argument that the hostility, the instability that we see in the arab and moslem world in general is all tied more or less to the arab- israeli conflict and if we can solve that, if lot of that problem would go away. the other is the problem of poverty. people asserted that the real root cause of terrorism was that people are poor and black economic opportunity. -- and lacked opportune -- and lack economic opportunity. there are large parts of the world that are extremely poor, even poorer than most of the
arab world, for example. the people in those areas, as unhappy and politically disenfranchised as they are, do not turn into terrorists. you need something more to explain the terrorism phenomenon than simply poverty and lack of opportunity. it is were calling attention to these points because if we ever get to the point where we have a president who wants to do something in this area and launch an effort and the ideas that our report promotes work are taken seriously, i think it is inevitable that the opponents of these ideas will be reviving these arguments as a way of changing the subject.
we will be happy to take questions from our audience. as i mentioned before, questions can be sent end via twitter @ .udson institute wait until the microphone and it's brought to you and if you couldn't identify yourself and your affiliation, i would be grateful. why don't we start here? in front? yes. ok - that's fine. >> i served in iraq recently and
and i would be curious as to whether the report gives attention to the work we have done in iraq. there were a number of projects that n.e.d. was involved in in iraq and the republican institute assisting the iraqis preparing for elections. i was working at the provincial reconstruction team level. we have voter education as one project. we instructed iraqi schoolchildren on the concept of human rights and the role of the elections in a democratic society for grades 1-12.
we were doing work in this area. iraqis complained that some of our efforts in public health was not being sufficiently publicized to the iraqi public. >> we did not really deal too much with the situation in iraq. we were looking at it from a more global point of view. many of the things you're talking about are the kinds of projects that would come under this strategy now. iraq was a different situation. we were there at large numbers with large forces and could operate in a more direct way than we could generally speaking. >> also, i don't want in any way
to deny the existence or belittle the importance of various efforts of different people around the u.s. government that are relevant to this subject. the point we were making is there is no comprehensive national strategy specifically to counter the ideology. it is certainly true that much of what our forces have been doing on the ground in afghanistan and iraq has helped to change attitudes and thinking. that is quite different from a national strategic ideas campaign. of the type that is a end to contradict -- that is aimed to contradict the way of thinking that extremism is promoting. >> i am confused as to what the
target is meant to be. the initial impression i had was that it was a broader conception of islamist ideology. then i got the sense that it was a narrow slice of terrorist islamist philosophy reflected in al-qaeda and bin laden. some would argue the ideological roots were as if in the communist era one were to look at the fringe groups engaged in
terrorism activity. if you broaden it out, you run into the issue that if we're worried about ideologies that counter liberal democracy there is a range that should be of critical concern. how can you draw those boundaries? >> you hit on an issue we spent a lot of time discussing and try to get clear in our own minds. it is precisely because islamism is a very complex phenomenon. the notion that it is just terrorism is to narrow because you can have and the ideological
belief system which does not call for violence now but nevertheless, inevitably leads toward it. on the other hand, we wanted to leave open the possibility that various groups such as the moslem brotherhood is becoming a power in egypt would not necessarily go in a kind of violent direction. in other words, it is a new situation and people react in situations in ways that are unpredictable. that is why i tried to focus on this notion of a belief in the inevitable hostility of the west toward islam. it struck me that that was -- to the extent that one could draw a line between what we're talking about and what we are not talking about and what we are aiming at, it seemed to me that that was the clearest indicator of what we are getting at.
somebody takes the position that the west is so hostile to me that i have to be fighting it all the time because it denies my religion and is trying to destroy my religion, therefore i cannot possibly live with it, therefore whether i am fighting now may be a prudential issue. in principle, violence is always going to be possible and justifiable because this other guy is out to get me. to the extent that i could find a way of drawing the line, that's what i did. you're quite right, it is a difficult area because it is a complex phenomenon. we're in the middle of change. >> mark has gone to the heart of
the matter. we do spend a lot of time discussing and debating this very question among ourselves. to see precisely how we resolve this among ourselves, i commend you -- i recommend to you our report to give you a snapshot. here is the final paragraph of the introduction -- after islamists won popular elections in tunisia, secretary of state hillary clinton told an audience of young tahitian " there are those here in thune asia and elsewhere who question whether islamic politics can be compatible with democracy. " tunisia has a chance to answer that question and to demonstrate that there is no contradiction. in our judgment, this kind of
openness to democratic possibilities is a proper basis for american policy until the facts on the ground supplied a negative answer to secretary clinton's question. we have to be binocular. on the one hand, we have to look at the intellectual and ideological roots. on the other hand, we have to attend to the complexities of political reality and the differences that situations can make in the evolution of thought as it grapples with the responsibilities of governing the country. it is our view that is an open question whether the leadership in tunisia, the leadership in egypt, the leadership in turkey and elsewhere grappling with the
complexities of government actual sightings as opposed to simply mounting opposition movements and vigorous rhetoric against the status quo will be driven to understand that there is something in between syad ktutb and french secularism on the other hand. there is a lot of ground between those two polar opposites. it would be foolish for americans to assume that the precise relationship between religion and state power which has served us well is possible or even a pro. and these specific circumstances on the ground in countries like tunisia and egypt. i will venture far afield from my home base and expertise to islam "to be a
principal source told law for a new society. that is to make a statement that has enormous number of shades of meaning. should it be the details of block, the words of blog text should be the principles of bowl? should be the moral understanding behind block? certified islamists have made all those arguments and more besides and depending on which one it is, islamism may, in those circumstances or may not turn out to be compatible with democracy and pluralism. at any rate, we have to pay attention to the fact that democratic votes have brought
these governments to power after an extent period in which these populations believe that we are not exactly encouraging a transition to democracy. we have no choice, in the first instance, but to respect the outcome and work with it as best we can. i think secretary of state clinton delineated the only basis of american policy. we should be open-minded and experimental and to what we can to encourage the positive evolution and out come to these processes but who knows? >> we received a question via twitter - "how to the panelists assess the efforts of the state department's center for strategic counter-terrorism
communication?" i know that we have heard from a report from people in that office about activity. i don't know if you are -- it is a fairly new office in the state department. >> one of the things you see in washington is when you administrations come in, they come in with the attitude that the guys that came before them did not know what they were doing. we will never do that. after a while, they realize that maybe they were onto something. i don't remember what gsac stood for which is pretty much the same thing.
by the bank is generally a good idea. >> i think it is a positive development. it is more narrowly focused than what we are talking about in the report. it is very much focused on al- qaeda and trying to present al qaeda now especially after the hour of the spring as passe and irrelevant. i think it is a positive development but it is rather narrowly focused is my impression from hearing ambassador lebaron talk about it. it is a positive step but it would require more broadbased focus to become to the sorts of things we're talking about. >> i think this activity, the
strategic counter-terrorism community -- vacation office, the activity is positive because it involves the development of tools that are useful for a strategic idea and campaign. practice makes purpose so it is good the u.s. government is doing things in this area. part of the problem i would say with all this is it is constrained by strategic guidance not to take on any real ideological issues. it is engaged in-political campaigning against the al-qaeda organization. making al-qaeda look bad, making al qaeda look irrelevant, but not arguing that
what al-qaeda says about the duty of moslems is wrong. it does not go that far the administration does not want to engage in the fight against al qaeda on the ideological level. it has its reasons for that. they have been laid out at length by john brennan in a number of speeches. the fact that the office of existent is developing some tools that could be put to more useful purposes is a good thing. >> thank her for this discussion. -- thank you for this discussion. what are the reasons behind the
attempt to downplay the role of the ideology? is it lack of knowledge or is it because some people feel they don't know how to deal with the ideology in this field or is it political correctness or something else? >> i think this report does an excellent job in describing what that is about in one section. the gentleman who wrote it can exploit a better than i can. the issue of dealing with an ideology that is based on the distorted view of a religion is one issue. there is a real allergy to that in the u.s. government.
people take the first amendment, prohibition of established religion in the united states and some sort of prohibition on the u.s. participating in matters involving religion abroad. the second point is this issue of squeamishness about u.s. government participation in the marketplace of ideas. they say it is not something we should do and we are corrupting the marketplace, we as a government. that is a circle that we try to square with something we call public diplomacy 2.0 which is a hackneyed phrase. forget that title. the idea was that our job was not to sit here like i am doing now and protect you. it does not work very well. people don't want to listen. thank you for listening to this.
really was that our job was to convene a discussion in which our views would become part of the discussion. that, to me, is a completely valid participation in this marketplace of ideas. that may be tactics but if you really want to get into this war of ideas, that is probably a good way to do it rather than have the secretary of state make a pronouncement . >> the gentlemen in the back row. >> thanks very much for this discussion.
the comment on the question that was conveyed. dan benjamin was the head of the office of state and before this report, islamism was not a friend or for discussion. my question is that we're in a new situation. which of america's two-fold. we have arab spring and the coming to power of islamic groups and there is nothing to
do but to deal with those governments. we hope they develop in the direction, in a benign direction. the second point is that the united states is withdrawing from the region and we will not be doing very much there anyway. there won't much in the way of preventive policies. i think that policy has the support of the american public.
given those two things, with the office of the report, how would they seek the objective under the circumstances? what difference would it make in the way in which we would approach the subject? now that these two major changes are happening? >> linney did -- let me begin to grapple with this. i don't know that it would have to much direct effect on the sort of programs we're talking about. one would find out whether we would drop from the region does
have the ideological effects that some people think it would. i suspect it would not. i suspect it would not particularly change the sort of ideological landscape very much. in fact, it might make it worse because of the perspective that the extremist views are somehow winning and their departure is a result of that. nevertheless, i think we would continue in the same way of trying to get the debate within the moslem world in bed -- invigorated and doing what we could to support people to argue for a more positive direction in terms of the their own societies and the way in which they will try to develop and to get off the notion of an inevitable hostility, that they have to protect against. from the west. it may make things a little
harder in some ways and it may make them easier. the fundamental issue is really the same which is how to make sure that all sorts of voice is in themuslim world that don't support the extremist islamists to view are heard and are able to network and have resources and platforms and break through the one-sided mass of the debate -- once ane citedss of the debate -- one-sidedness of the debate. >> muslim communities are going to be working out their future. as they do, one hopes there is going to be some debate and opposition to the views that the
islamist extremists are putting forward. the strategy that we are proposing the united states adopt makes sense for regions from which we are withdrawing military resources because those are still regions that will have to be debating the ideological offerings ofbin laden and other extremists. i think we have a strong national security interests whether we are present in a region or not that evolves in a way that makes that region a more peaceful, human rights respecting, potentially prosperous area of the world. >> i think the most constructive way to think about what is happening in the world in this
part of the world is that the battle is within muslim society. we are being affected deeply. we cannot end of this by pulling out of a particular region. that does not make any sense. this is a conflict that needs to be resolved. i think our role is to promote credible voices within muslim communities. >> let me just add to that -- as a thought experiment, i find your question very challenging. i stumble at the threshold. yes, we don't have a military presence in iraq and yes, our military presence in afghanistan is shrinking and will shrink further.
i doubt to nothing but who knows? does that mean we are withdrawing militarily from the persian gulf? i don't think so. i certainly don't expect that. as a matter of fact, it is easier to page pictures where our presence needs to ramp up as it is to paint a more benign picture where we would feel secure about withdrawing. i see us entering into a variety of bilateral, multilateral relationships with gulf nations and others that will bind us to the region militarily as well as diplomatically and financially as far as the eye can see. if you look at what is in state, how can we do otherwise? in the politically relevant perspective, we are going to be present and engaged for goods
and ill by the people trying to orient themselves toward us and for the evolution of their own society. five years ago, it may turn out we pulled the plugs the wave of britain -- to the with the british did. -- the way the british did. >> let's take a couple of quick questions. let's get the microphone to the lady. get three questions and we will respond. >> i think this report sounds good and i will check it out and i appreciate the panel. that sounds like you're asking why are we not addressed the whole.
usually bee to partisan but in this administration it goes much farther. they are purposely telling everyone to de-link it. i think they are getting a lot of their advice from counter- terrorism programs from islamist. i think there is active participation in obfuscating what the real problem is in terms of the ideology >> this gentle man here. >> i have enjoyed the panel, this discussion, and the report. i have a comment and question. do we know what is the message
that was revealed more than 1400 years ago by the revelation that came down by gabriel >? ? i don't know how many of the panelists have read this book or part of it or discover the understanding of it to be able to draw a line between moslems and terrorists and islamists and prescribe correction like a doctor that never went to school and did not study medicine, giving medicine to a patient that he -- that this has a headache. unfortunately, maybe aspirin
will make them bleed to death. to so important for us in this country where we have taken the banner of the most powerful, most advanced ,most rich, most progressive country and the world that our aim is to help other nations to be so ignorant. there are 1.8 billion muslims and the world. some of these people may be have no education. they have no food to eat and maybe they don't have a place to live. but they are still strongly connected to their creator. the, you would all force and we call them terrorists. maybe they are not. they're just defending their faith. the drones are killing people
now. it is such anger among the muslims and the world toward us. we need to make sure we know we are on their side. not against them. >> thank you, pass the microphone back. >> thank you. my concern is the battle of andl's between the liberals extremist when the comes to islam. there is some who say sharia is
all right. they say it should be practiced in the west. i come from a and moslem country. i think that is a dangerous proposition. saudi arabia is the elephant in the room. they are the main financiers of terrorism and we're not talking about democracy and secularism in saudi arabia. terrorists world's are in pakistan [inaudible] >> i did not quite understand the first point.
i think administration started with a kind of determination to narrow the lens, to take the global war on terror and bring it down to manageable task of dismantling and disrupting al qaeda. they maybe have over corrected. in the sense that everything was devoted to that and a kinetic counter-terrorism policy but does not do with the problem of recruitment. i think that is why we have to have the discussion today. we have had two administrations now, one republican and one democrat, who have failed to create this kind of strategy and organizational home for ideas.
the public -- we have not made our case to the public yet. as cleverly designed as this organization and report is, that is not enough either. maybe there'll be an expanding drone war, maybe we will extend military power into other areas where we have not gone which will spur a reaction. that could get people's attention. right now, it looks like a manageable problem. the ideology does not seem to be particularly threatening to us. what would happen if we bought a piece from the terrorists? what if we could stop them from
attacking american targets? would we then let muslims soared about themselves? i hope not because we have a huge stake in political change in the region. this idea seems to be something that is in parallel with the official policy of the united states was to support modernization and moderation. in the great change that is coming. >> all want to just the very sensitive question. anyone who worked for me who got into the final argument about the true nature of islam, if i could fire that person, which i couldn't because they were a
government worker, would get fired. that is not the business we're in to have arguments about doctrine. what we are talking about is an ideology that is based on a distorted view of islam. i think we have every right and responsibility to push back against it as hard as we can. i don't think it has very much to do with our understanding of a great religion. i do think it is necessary for us to understand that religion. very few people engage in this at a policy level do. >> the question was -- what
percentage of the 1.8 billion muslims, i don't know if that is the right number and the world, what percentage support the islamist extremist views. with a question like that, you don't have the ability to take accurate public opinion polling in large parts of the world where we don't have political freedom. polls are not always accurate even in countries where there is political freedom. is a good idea not to take seriously people who claim to speak on behalf of the people where they are not politically free. >> there is a question out there
that is asked frequently. do you believe that the west is out to destroy islam? large majorities, as you know, believe that. that is at the core of the ideology. i think there are parts of this ideology that are pervasive. the ollie -- the ideology as a model that takes in alienated young people who don't have an identity and insulate them and to infuse them with ideology. it works and other areas as well. it helps if they have had a taste of that ideology or if it permeates the atmosphere. i think that is the problem and is hard to modern -- modified. >> one of the things we advocate in our report is a research
capability for the u.s. government so that you would have people who would be operating in this area on the basis of much better information than generally exists. the basic warning but you don't want people operating in a policy area out of ignorance is valid for this subject matter and every other subject matter. after world war two, there was an enormous increase and investment in russian studies, for example. there is a sound reason for that. you want to study everybody was either your enemy or has the potential to be your enemy and if you want to influence people, you want to understand well.
an extremely serious effort to understand this phenomenon is something we are advocating in our proposal. are there any other comments you want to make tex? >> maybe this is a way of bringing this discussion to, if not a natural conclusion, at least they needed one. [laughter] this in a way repeats and intensify this the previous question. there are three people on this panel who served in important positions of responsibility in administration where the consciousness of this issue not only is a practical problem but is a problem that involves thought and principles.
yet, i have worked on this question now for some years. there seems to be a consensus that the institutional response and programmatic response to what must be seen as a problem was somewhere between inadequate and nonexistent under the circumstances where the most important condition prior, namely the support of the president of united states, was present. why not? it did not happen then, is there hope it will happen under the circumstances? i am quite serious. >> it is an important question. i was in the administration from 2001-until the summer of 2005. i saw something of an evolution of thinking about the ideological part of the
terrorism problem. initially, it was clear that what the president was concerned about was anything that would reinforce the enemies propaganda that the united states was anti- islam and the war on terrorism was a war against islam. he was extremely sensitive to that issue. within a week of the 9/11 attacks, he visited the mosque here in washington. at the front of his mind, he had the danger that the war and terrorism would appear to be a war on islam. if it did, we would be aggravating a problem we were trying to mitigate or salt. -- or salt. initially that as part of the answer. if you look over this -- i talk
about this in my book -- i present some documents in there that are relevant. if you look initially at the reception -- strategic guidance for the war and terrorism, it tended to focus initially on things that could be accomplished immediately in the military law enforcement intelligence area. whatever was going to be done at the ideological level was clearly a longer-term effort. in the months after 911 or there was a strong anticipation that attacks were imminent, the focus of the government was on things that could be done immediately with immediate effect rather than on things that would bear fruit over long term.
over the years, even in the bush administration, there was increasing interest in taking on the ideological aspects of the problem. is not the people were not aware but they tended to downplay initially. the growing awareness of the ideological nature of the problem is the reason that there is responsible budget responsibility given to admit it turned out to be restored -- a significant effort. we had a number of false starts early on. whenever we talked about this problem, our colleagues in the state department tended to think about doing the things they have
offices already set up to do which is messaging exercises rather than the kind of operational approach we are proposing in our report. for one reason or another and there are a number of reasons, the bush administration did not do anywhere near as good job in this area of the war on terrorism as other areas. as others have pointed out, the obama administration came in with affirmative ideas that were in opposition to an ideological effort. for all those various reasons, neither administration has done what we think this to be done in this field. with that, we are out of time. i want to express great gratitude to my colleagues.
thank you for all your attention. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012] next, your calls and, and "washington journal on,"van "newsmakers." after that some of the species from last week's democratic national convention. -- some of the speeches from last week's democratic national convention. >> i'm a journalist and they